Describing a Provincetown house as a mysterious, exotic, tumble-down hodge-podge doesn’t really narrow the number of suspects meaningfully. So, let’s note further about 52 Franklin Street — which, appropriately, has an important John Waters connection — that there are windows where a roof should be, walls where windows should be and the general air of a 1960s mash-up.
That is, if you can even find it, since it sits in a little hollow tucked at the bottom of the hill on which Chaim Gross worked and lived.
Some of the hybrid qualities can be explained by the fact that the house (c 1850) was bought in 1962 by Dr. Samuel Klauber of Boston, a physician who remodeled it to serve his practice. He built an office, a treatment room, an X-ray room, a waiting room and a residence. He opened his practice here in June 1963, promising medical service around the clock, and the town’s other two prominent physicians — Dr. Daniel H. Hiebert and Dr. Thomas F. Perry — attended the welcoming reception. Dr. Klauber’s wife served as his medical technician. He was joined two years later by Dr. Lon Curtis, but the Franklin Street clinic closed soon thereafter.
John Waters (b 1946) and Mink Stole (b 1947) lived here briefly at an important stage in their lives. In a 1997 interview with Gerald Peary for Provincetown Arts, Waters recalled: “The first time I had a glamorous apartment was in 1970 when I lived with Mink away from the water, on Franklin Street, where Chaim Gross’s studio was. It had a glass roof with different colors in the glass, and a pool, and a bridge you walked over, and a fireplace, very Kim Novak.”
In the same issue of Provincetown Arts, Stole recalled her romance here with Vincent Peranio, the production designer of all of the Waters films: “We had a torrid love affair and it was my first experience playing house. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, and I made a heartshaped cake. Sappy! We were so poor we had to give up cigarettes. In winter, we took LSD and walked on the dunes. There was no sliding; the sand was frozen solid.”
Peranio, too, had memories: “Mink and I had a rather torrid, story-book romance. After, we would scream in the streets. She’d come into a coffee house and say, ‘I wish I could have a child named Vincent and kill it.’ How can you break up in P’town and not see each other? I moved for a month into a tent.”
Sue Harrison, the former arts editor of The Banner, lived in the same apartment in 1977, as she recalls in her comment below. “When I lived there,” she told me in 2012, “we called it the ‘space ship’ because when you drove up, all those colored panels glowing in the night looked like a flying saucer nestled down on the ground.”
The house was offered for sale in 2010 for $659,000 as a “development or fixer-upper opportunity in a rustic west setting,” but was not on the market as of 2012. It’s been owned since 1992 by Maria Bizzotto, the proprietor of Friends of Heart at 301 Commercial Street. • Assessor’s Online Database ¶ Updated 2012-12-30